On Tuesday night, the Celtics capped off their regular season with a victory from the depleted squad over the Washington Wizards, finishing the regular season with a record of 49-33. While opinions on the team have shifted on what seems like a daily basis, it’s now time to take a look back at the Boston Celtics and determine just how successful, or unsuccessful, this season was.
The Boston Celtics opened the season on a far from promising cold stretch where the team went 10-10. The struggle to win away games was evident, losing to the likes of Dallas and Charlotte in November on the road, and while the score differential wasn’t drastic, the team seemed helpless in games like the Denver and Utah losses also in November. The traction this team gained in the offseason was monumental, coming off one of the most impressive playoff runs we’ve ever seen in the league, appearing in Game 7 of the Conference Finals with their All-Star starter PG and max contract free agent sidelined. The team was widely expected to compete for 60 wins and was the clear cut early favorite to represent the East in the Finals. Starting the way the Celtics did after what everyone expected them to do was nothing short of hurtful to watch.
With the team’s schedule easing up, the Celtics suddenly rose to an eight-game win streak closing November and entering December. While the opponents were far from strong, it was encouraging to see the Celtics finally seemed to be doing what they should, winning easy games. Yet, despite the December win streak it was still concerning to see the Celtics lose not just to the abysmal Phoenix Suns, but once again, playing at the mercy of teams we all expected them to compete with and furthermore beat, such as Milwaukee, Houston, and San Antonio. But luckily, the Celtics did not create a trend with the manner at which they closed out 2018, as once the new year flipped, the Celtics went on to pick up some convincing victories against Brooklyn, Indiana, Minnesota, and Dallas, and with the exception of a three-game losing streak that would be best swept under the rug to Miami, Orlando, and Brooklyn, the Celtics managed to win the rest of their games in January with the exception of a heartbreaking 4 point choke to the Warriors.
Trudging to the Finish Line
After an “eh” start to February, with a good win vs Oklahoma City, yet two losses in LA, the Celtics headed into the All-Star break. This, was where everyone hoped to see the Celtics finally put their season that was at that point considered “okay” behind them, and flip the playoff switch. And wow, it would’ve been hard for the team to disappoint more, starting with 4 straight losses off the break to Milwaukee, Chicago, a blowout in Toronto and a home loss to Portland. Unfortunately, in March and the little bit we saw in April, we continued to see the same Celtics we saw all year, winning some games we expect them to, losing some that we did not, getting some wins against great teams, getting manhandled against those teams. Back and forth the rest of the way, leading us up to April, where the team lost to Orlando on the road, and finished as the 4th seed in the East, at 49-33.
With the most hope surrounding a Boston team since the Big 3, it’s hard to argue against the claim that the 2018-2019 Boston Celtics disappointed in the regular season. What was most disappointing in my opinion, was the disappearance of the defensive identity Brad Stevens had built for the squad the season prior, as the team allowed an unacceptable amount of points and in an unacceptably easy fashion to too many opponents this season. In addition, one game the team appeared to be meshing beautifully and building chemistry, the next it seemed a roster move was necessary. On a scale of 1 to 10, it would be hard to give the expected powerhouse that instead finished 4the seed with under 50 wins any greater than a rating of a 5, if generous a 6. Luckily, there is enough talent on this team to put together a big-time postseason run, so it’s far from time to give up or count the Celtics out yet, but it is non-negotiable, this was not necessarily a regular season Boston will be eager to remember.
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